Vulture Premium Strap from Will / Buzzard Brain Leathworks full review
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Thread: Vulture Premium Strap from Will / Buzzard Brain Leathworks full review

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  1. #1
    Member Karkarov's Avatar
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    Feb 2016
    Definitely not Sweden

    Vulture Premium Strap from Will / Buzzard Brain Leathworks full review

    So this story begins a little over a year ago. I was looking to buy a promotion gift for my boss, he was moving up to the big show and going to start working with 6 figure people blah blah blah, and he had no watch. This can't be tolerated, so I knew what my gift needed to be. I settled on a Seiko Alpinist, great watch, interesting design, not common to see around, and my boss has a small wrist so size will work. The problem is I knew the strap it came with wasn't very good.

    Enter Will and his Etsy shop Buzzard Brain Leather works. He had been posting his stuff on the staps forum I think maybe a month or two around that time, and I could see he made some nice semi dressy straps that would also work casually, and fit the Alpinist well. Here is the link to his main thread: Strap Journal - New to the watch strap game, but not new to leather work and while I am at it, here is his Etsy shop:

    I decided to give him a shot and try one of his straps for this watch. Gotta say, it measured up in every way. Finishing was good, leather was high quality, the stitching was spot on, there really wasn't much to complain about. Here is a pic of that watch and the strap Will made for posterity's sake.

    So in the end the boss liked his gift, his wife accused him of having a thing with his female boss it was such a nice gift (not kidding, "lol"), and the strap was great. Dealing with Will was not bad either, he was a great personable guy, gave awesome service, and was definitely someone I wanted to do business with again. It just came down to a question of finding the right watch for one of his straps. I am really picky, when I get a new watch, or update an old one, I want to get what I think is the best possible strap for it, and different makers have different materials and styles. So for the longest time I just didn't have a watch that I thought would work ideally with one of his straps.

    That changed very early this year when I picked up a Christopher Ward Trident C60 Vintage during CW's Christmas sales. I already owned a strap that I felt would work well with it, a Jean Paul Minicucci (JPM) strap care of Bulang & Sons. Make no mistake, it's a fantastic strap on all levels, but it has one problem. I have a big wrist, it's an "average" length strap. To wear it from the get go I had to punch an extra hole in it, and remove the second keeper as the long end of the strap it literally never touched it. So I love it as a strap, but need something longer. I tried it for awhile but after a month I knew I just wanted something longer. Here is a link to the specific JPM strap:

    So around this time I am looking pretty hard for a strap to do the job, and ironically I am considering one of Will's straps anyway, when he contacts me Via PM. I had supported his straps a few times, pointed people to his store, given a solid review of the strap I bought from him, and he felt like he wanted to do something to pay me back. So he offered to make me a strap free of charge. To be honest I was humbled by the offer and played with the idea of declining, but I was also taught the rudest thing you can ever do is refuse a gift. So we set about designing a strap that could replace the JPM, and that is no small task.

    I wanted to match that darker tan/caramel color of the JPM, Will had no leather that color, I wanted to be as thin as or thinner than the JPM which is only 2.5 mm, Will had no leather that could easily do that, and his work was officially cut out for him. So after a few months of considering, trying a couple things, and playing with ideas, we ended up with the strap you will see below. Bear in mind, the main reason it took months wasn't Will, it was very much me. I had some tough requirements in color and style, visually this strap will look "similar" to other straps he makes, but it is actually kinda different. Also I absolutely insisted he put me on the bottom of the pile and all his paying customers come first, and that is exactly what he did.

    So it comes down to this, was the wait worth it, and does the strap meet the quality of the JPM strap? Let's talk about that. *Disclaimer: Bear in mind the pics of the JPM on Bulang & Sons are taken under a bright light, and my strap is over 3 years old, it has patina'd and darkened quite a bit.

    Specs first -

    Material: Japanese Shonan Leather
    Length: 130/85
    Lug Width: 22mm
    Buckle Width: 20mm
    Height: 2mm

    So like I disclaimed, my JPM has patina'd a bit. Pics really don't do it's color justice. Also pardon my Black Bay, it had to photo bomb this shot. I am using the most recent issue of Loupe Magazine as my "table", for those who don't know it is the official quarterly magazine of Christopher Ward, so it seemed sort of fitting. As you can see from the pic, the length difference in these straps is very real. I wear the Vulture on the third hole. Also the taper on the Bulang is much more dramatic as it goes down to 18mm not 20mm.

    Now here is an interesting pic. This is a very close comparison of the edge finishing of these straps. The Vulture on the left VS the JPM on the right. As you can see they are both VERY well finished, no glazes, no paste, just two raw edges that were burnished and polished down the old fashioned way. It also shows just how close the thickness is on these straps. It's extremely subtle but the JPM gets thicker near the lug, and thinner going to the end of the strap. The Vulture on the other hand is a consistent 2mm the whole way. I would be hard pressed to say one is better finished than the other. The JPM has a little more "stuff" happening due to the width, and it's edge is perfectly flat, but the very top and bottom of the strap sides are slightly rough. The Vulture has a very lightly visible spot in the center where the edge sinks in a tiny tiny tiny bit, feels smoother on the hand, and is slightly curved.

    Gonna have to call that a draw, and trust me, coming to a draw on edge finishing with a JPM strap is no easy task. I absolutely adore the strap on my Black Bay you see in the photo, easily one of my five favorite straps, but I would say the JPM has better edge finishing than it does.

    This is just a shot of the bottom of the strap at the buckle. It shows Will does some real high class work, the thread color in the interior is different from the top of the strap, the lines are all solid. There is only one problem here, and it is the cause of the one gripe I have with the strap. The cut for the buckle pin is ever so slightly angled to favor the internal side of the strap, so when taking off the strap the pin can't go 100% straight up, or bend a little backwards. As a result, it has a tendency to push forward and catch on other holes as you are taking the strap off. Not a significant thing, and with wear over time I am sure it will loosen up, but it is what it is. Also another slight strap snob sissy whine, I do kind of wish Will did some buckle options. This buckle works, nothing wrong with it, but you could get a little fancier or have slightly more high end stuff to get a better "fit" with the strap itself.

    Just a solid overall view of the strap on the watch. You can get a decent view of the grain in the leather, and tell that it has a little bit of a shiny texture when the light hits it just so. By no means a glossy strap, but not fully matte either.

    So what's my conclusion? Well, I have worn this watch on this strap to work once, out and out once, around the house, and even mowed the hard with it yesterday. Make absolutely no mistake, this is a well made watch strap. Will did a fantastic job to, the edge finish is excellent, he left the leather out in the sun to darker for days to try to enhance the color, the stitching is fantastic, and the line indents are clear and straight as an arrow. So let's answer the question, in my opinion does this strap match the JPM in quality?

    Yes, and no. Yes, in that the finishing and work Will put in matches the JPM, in some cases maybe even exceeds it. No, in that a JPM is made of a little bit better leather, and obviously won't have the buckle gripe. Length issues aside, which strap do I think is "better"? In all honesty, I have to say the JPM edges it out by a hair, and I do mean a hair. However, the JPM will also cost you 109 euro, Wills straps 100 usd, or less. So the question becomes this, is the quality difference representative of that price gap, and the difference in service you will get from Will versus a larger strap retailer? No, it is not.

    If it weren't for the buckle pin thing, I would probably have said they were equal with the caveat that the JPM is little higher quality leather. Just bear in mind, the Shonan leather is not Wills top end leather either. Do I plan to switch the Christopher Ward off the Vulture and back to the JPM? Absolutely not. I am going to gladly use this strap for some time to come.

    So my advice. If you need a vintage style minimalist stitch strap, and money isn't a major concern. You probably can't beat JPM. What if you want a straight stitch? Maybe you would like to save a few dollars? Or you just don't want a "vintage" style? You should seriously consider giving your money to Will instead. If you need further endorsement, I have also bought another strap from Vulture already through the recent mass drop, and in the future will probably order a "ghost leather" strap too.

    This is a great strap, and Will will only get better with time. If you are considering one of his straps, buy with confidence you won't be let down. Incoming complimentary wrist shot.....

    CastorTroy3 and Al Faromeo like this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    New Orleans, La

    Re: Vulture Premium Strap from Will / Buzzard Brain Leathworks full review

    Thank you very much for your detailed review Karkarov! I have to say, I am quite envious of your photography skills. Those photos are incredible.

    I really appreciate your critiques. I will definitely be mindful of my buckle tang slot positioning going forward.

    As for buckles, that has been on my mind a lot lately. I am cooking up an oval-hole setup so that I can start offering high-quality thumbnail buckles. Hopefully I will be able to rock and roll with those in a week. An added benefit is the ovals can be placed closer together for finer adjustments.

    In other news, although you didn't bring it up, I have purchased a thread zapper to terminate my stitching more cleanly and eliminate the globs formed by using a lighter.

    Thanks again, and that Christopher Ward is one handsome watch!
    Karkarov and CBM_DOC like this.

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